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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Offering of Isaac

Genesis 22:1-19

    1. A life of faith and self-denial is usually filled with trials...
      1. The severest trials usually come toward the beginning of the walk of faith
        1. When you're still young in the faith and seemingly have more things to “put aside”
      2. But Abraham's severest trial came toward the end of his life
        1. He had lived many years and suffered many trials and persecutions
        2. And though we see him stumble now and then (usually in regards to his wife, Sarah)
          1. Pharaoh (Gen 12:11-12)
          2. Abimelech (Gen 20:2)
          3. Hagar and the birth of Ishmael
          4. He is after all, human, just like all of us, and subject to the same frailties and fears we all face
        3. He goes down on the record as a man of great faith
      3. But toward the end of his life and walk of faith...
        1. Not the beginning of it...
        2. We see him put to the test again
          1. A test that will take him to a much higher degree in the school of faith
          2. This will be a “post-graduate” level exam that will earn him the title of “friend of God” for all time
      4. Sharp testing means increased possession of God (Repeat)
        1. In other words, the more severe the test, the more we realize our need for God and His strength
          1. And the more we allow Him to take possession of us...
          2. Because only in His strength are we made strong (2 Cor 12:10)
        2. So we find that this last terrible experience of Abraham...will turn into his crowning glory

    1. Much has been said down through the centuries about this passage
      1. And there's little that I can say that hasn't already been said by people much wiser and more educated than I
      2. Much of the focus is usually on what God commanded Abraham to do...
        1. Sacrifice his son...kill his only son and then to offer him up as a burnt offering to God
      3. This is an idea that's repugnant to us...
        1. It goes against everything we've ever been taught about God
          1. His holiness...hatred of sin...His great love...
    2. But there are two things we must realize when we consider this story about the offering of Isaac
      1. First: The fact that in that day and age...the father's right over the life and livelihood of his child was absolute...
        1. And though the command pierced his didn't appear to wound his conscience at all
        2. It doesn't appear to be wrong, in Abraham's eyes (or even Isaac's eyes), for a father to slay his son
          1. As a matter of fact, all of scripture is void of any description whatsoever of either the father's or the son's feelings during this entire event
            1. We get a glimpse of what Abraham thought
              1. Gen 22:5b; Gen 22:8a
              2. But not a syllable concerning their emotions
        3. And seeing that all this occurred before the law
          1. We cannot judge Abraham based upon the law
          2. Rom 2:14-15
          3. Rom 7:7-8
      2. Second: The offering of Isaac is only a part of the story
        1. The command Abraham received from God sets in motion much larger events
          1. Such as the faith demonstrated by Abraham's obedience
          2. And the deliverance that Isaac experienced, which was clearly a part of God's purpose from the beginning

    1. The command that God gave to Abraham was exact (Gen 22:2)
      1. He specified what He wanted – a burnt offering
      2. He specified whom He wanted – Isaac
      3. He specified where He wanted it – the land of Moriah
    2. Abraham obeyed with exactness!
    3. God gave Noah exact directions
      1. And Noah obeyed with exactness
      2. Gen 6:22
    4. God gave Moses exact directions...
      1. Both the giving of the Law and the building of the tabernacle
      2. Exo 25:40
    5. When you don't respond to God's command with obedience and exactness...the consequences will be serious
      1. Consider Uzzah who lifted his hand to steady the Ark...
        1. The Ark was to be carried upon the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites – never put upon a cart drawn by oxen
        2. No one except Moses, Aaron (or the High Priest) could touch the Ark – Uzzah touched it and was struck dead on the spot.
      2. Consider Moses who struck the rock with his staff instead of speaking to it (Num 20:7-12)
        1. That one act of disobedience cost him entrance into the Promised Land
      3. The Bible is filled with other examples:
        1. Saul lost the kingdom because he failed to wipe out the Amalekites
        2. The Israelites failed to drive out the heathen from the Promised Land—and suffered throughout their history...even up to today...for that failure
    6. Obedience isn't a game of horseshoes!
      1. God doesn't want us to “just get close”
      2. So we need to go to whatever great length we obey with exactness
    1. There is no record that Abraham ever questioned God's intentions or motives
      1. He asked the Lord about the innocent suffering the same fate as the wicked when His justice and judgment were about to fall upon Sodom and Gomorrah
      2. But there is no record of Abraham ever doing anything other than “obeying”
    2. He could have asked things like:
      1. Uh...really? ...Would you verify that?
      2. You can't be serious?
      3. How about Ishmael? ...His people will do nothing but cause trouble for the sons of Isaac, and indeed, the entire world throughout history!
      4. Can't I be in that hall of faith and not do this one thing?
    3. God's commands, however, are not to be disputed...but obeyed
      1. We're not to consult with flesh and blood about them (Gal 1:15-16)
      2. But with a gracious obstinacy...and single-minded purpose...persist in our obedience to them
        1. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus' mother, Mary, told the servants"Do whatever He tells you," (Joh 2:5)
        2. Even Jesus asks us, Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do the things I say?(Luk 6:46)
    4. We must never put a (?) where God puts a (.)
      1. And we should always remember...(Isa 55:8-9)
    1. It isn't always easy or convenient to serve God
      1. In this instance, Abraham had to saddle the donkeys, recruit the young men, gather wood, take a three day journey...
      2. At another time, he had to gather up all his house and move to “the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1)
      3. Three of the seven biblical “holy convocations” , or “feasts” for the Jews are called “pilgrimage festivals”
        1. Passover, Festival of Weeks and Festival of Booths are the 3 that God required all the men of the country to travel to Jerusalem
        2. Now tell me it wouldn't be “inconvenient” to have to drop everything you're doing and travel to Jerusalem three times a year...
          1. And most of the travel would be done on foot and would take days or weeks to get there and back home
          2. It would not only be “inconvenient”...but also dangerous
            1. If you didn't travel in a large group, you might end up on the side of the road beaten and robbed
              1. Like the man in the story of the Good Samaritan
    2. Look at how difficult it is to get people to get up on Sunday mornings to go to Church!
      1. It's not convenient to attend worship services
        1. Study the Bible
        2. Teach SS, Awanas, etc.
        3. It's not convenient to reach out to the lost
        4. Encourage the way-ward member
        5. It's not convenient to prepare a sermon with all the thought, study, prayer and sweat that's involved
      2. But we do all these things, and more, because... convenience must never dictate our faithfulness! (Repeat)
      3. And we realize that it wasn't “convenient” for our Lord Jesus to suffer as he did...and die on the cross as he did
        1. We thank the Father for Jesus' willingness to obey even when it wasn't convenient...
        2. And that He was faithful...even unto the cross!
    1. Obedience can be very costly!
      1. What a price Abraham had to pay!
      2. He had to put aside all feeling for Isaac in order to obey what God had commanded him to do
      3. Can you imagine the conflict he faced?
        1. The command appeared to be in contradiction with the promise
        2. The life of faith in the promise, that he had lived all his life by drew him one way...
          1. But his faith in God's command seemed to go another way...
        3. God seemed to be against God
          1. Faith against faith
          2. Promise against command
        4. Look again at chapter 22 of Genesis and see the struggle he faced throughout the whole ordeal
          1. v.2 “take your son”, “Your only son Isaac, whom you love”
          2. v.3 “his son Isaac”
          3. v.6 he takes the wood and lays it on “his son Isaac”
          4. v.7 Isaac spoke to “his father” Abraham and said, “My father”
          5. v.7 Abraham's response “Here I am, my son”
          6. v.8 God will provide the offering “my son”
          7. v.9 Abraham binds “his son Isaac”
          8. v.10 Abraham takes the knife and prepares to slaughter “his son”
          9. And lastly, in v.13, Abraham sees the ram caught in the thicket and offered it “in the place of his son”
        5. At every turn, the bond between the father and the son is forced on us...
          1. so that we can get a picture of how terrible and costly the task before him was.
    2. Obedience cost Job everything he had in life...
      1. Obedience cost Moses the riches and easy living of life in the Egyptian court
      2. It cost the three Hebrew children the suffering through fire
      3. It cost Stephen his life
      4. It cost Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Nate Saint, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian their lives in the Amazon jungle in 1956
      5. Obedience to God's command has cost countless people throughout the centuries their lives, livelihood's and prosperity...
        1. All of which was freely given...
        2. Because they all realized it wasn't theirs to keep...but only what had been given to them
        3. They all, and countless others, were willing to give up what they couldn't keep, in order to gain what they couldn't lose...
    3. There is a cost associated with Christianity
      1. Many times...a high cost
      2. Luk 14:28-33
      3. We must refuse the teachings and practices of “discounted” Christianity...or... “churchianity”
      4. And for ourselves...if we follow Christ to our fullest...what will it cost us?
        1. It could cost us our jobs
        2. Our
        3. Personal joys...personal comforts...habits
        4. Our lives...
        5. At the very least, it will cost us the respect of the “world”, because it hated also hates us
        6. Luk 14:26
    1. Abraham shows us that in the life of faith
      1. It's never over till it's over
        1. Strong faith is often exercised with strong trials
        2. And that having been tried in the past doesn't mean that we won't be tried in the future
      2. We must persevere and prevail, our whole lives
        1. We may be elders...aged...have spent many years contending for the faith
        2. But we're not done until we hear that trumpet blow, or hear Jesus calling us to “come up here”
        3. All of us, regardless of our age, may yet have to face our greatest trial we must remain ever vigilant
          1. Constantly ready to face, come what may!
      3. Are you ready to face the trials to come?
    2. Abraham faced his trials with the assurance that God would fulfill his promise...and because of that dogged faithfulness, he is called “a friend of God”? (Jam 2:23)
    3. Are you “a friend of God”?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Noah's Ark

This is the message I brought to the guys at Jordan Unit, Sunday 1/8/12.  I can't take credit for the title and 11 key points.  I received them in an email from a friend and after reading them, thought, hey, that will preach.  After researching it some, it appears that the author was unknown, although many people have posted them to their blogs or websites.  At any rate, the thoughts on each point are mine, and the Lord used the message.  One person accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and 2-3 guys rededicated their lives.
Noah's Ark
Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah's Ark.

: Don't miss the boat.
  1. There's only one boat...and that boat is Jesus
    1. If you miss the boat, you're treading water
    2. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.(Joh 14:6)
      1. All other religions in the world...Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism...etc
      2. Are just leaky row boats
      3. No other boat is covered with the “pitch”
        1. (Ge 6:14)
        2. Pitch=kaphar, atonement, expiate, cancel, cleanse

: Remember that we are all in the same boat!
  1. The Bible tells us that though we are many, we are all one body in Christ (Ro 12:4-5; 1 Co 10:17; 12:12-14; Ep 4:4; Col 3:15)
    1. Just as in the Ark, various duties had to be spread around 8 people
    2. We also, have various duties and functions within the body of Christ
      1. Pastors, teachers, serving...arm, leg foot...ingrown toenail
      2. We are still part of the same body, and we are one
  2. However, unity and peace aren't ultimate goals in a sinful world...
    1. It's better to have division...than collective apostasy!

THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
  1. Noah probably spent 100 years building the ark
    1. No rain in sight
    2. Suffered ridicule of neighbors
  2. Jesus tells us that we've got to count the cost, or plan ahead, before we can follow him
    1. (Lk 14:28-33) Build a tower...King goes to war

: Stay fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
      1. Noah was 500 years old when he “begat” Shem, Ham and Japheth (Ge 5:32)
        1. He was 600 years old when the flood came, so he spent at up to 100 years building the ark and preaching righteousness (2 Pe 2:5)
      2. Abraham was 75 when he left Haran to journey to Canaan (Ge 12:4)
        1. He was 99 when his name changed (Ge 17:1)
        2. He was 100 when Isaac was born
          1. Sarah was 90 or 91
      3. Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in the lap of luxury in Egypt
        1. He spent the next 40 years of his life in the Arabian desert learning to depend on God.
        2. His last 40 years (he's over 80) of his life were spent leading God's People from Egypt and through their desert wanderings before entering the Promised Land
      4. God doesn't care about a person's age
        1. He cares about obedience and willingness to do His will (Mk 3:35)

: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  1. The Bible doesn't tell us specifically...but you know that Noah got a lot of grief from neighbors and friends
    1. I mean, afterall, he was building a huge boat in the middle of a desert...or at least far from water
  2. The Jews that returned from Babylon to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
    1. The faced the ridicule and fury of Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, Ammonites and Ashdodites (Ne 4:1, 7)
    2. Had to build while someone held guard (Ne 4:9)
    3. They even built with one hand while holding a sword or spear in the other (Ne 4:16-18)
  3. There will be people who will tell you that you can't do this or that
    1. Pay no attention
    2. If you're doing what God has told you to do...then “just do it”.
    3. God prefers our obedience over our sacrifice (1 Sa 15:22)

: Build your future on high ground.
  1. In any battle, the preferred place to be would be on the high ground
    1. It causes the enemy to suffer high casualties as they try to make their way up the hill
    2. It also gives you a much better view of the big picture
      1. You can see where the enemy is encamped, and where their strengths and weaknesses are
  2. Jesus took the high ground...on a hill called Golgotha
    1. And He had a good view of all our weaknesses from His position on the Cross
    2. He said that we are to “take up our Cross, and follow Him” (Mk 8:34; 10:21)
      1. Follow Him to the High Ground where He was crucified
      2. And we were crucified with Him (Gal 2:20)

: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
  1. God told Noah to take his wife and his son's wives
    1. He told him to take “every male with his female” (Ge 7:2-3)
    2. God created marriage because it wasn't good that man was alone (Ge 2:18)
    3. Once woman was created, man was to forsake all others in preference of his wife (Ge 2:24)
  2. When Jesus sent out the disciples, He sent them out 2 by 2 (Lk 10:1)
    1. There is strength in numbers (Ec 4:12)
    2. We also are to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Th 5:11)

: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
  1. No matter how fast one was...or slow the other was...God didn't send the rain until all were in the boat
    1. No one gets left behind in God's kingdom
    2. All that He calls, will come (Jh 6:37, 44)
      1. And all who come...will be saved (Jh 6:40, 47)

:When you're stressed, float awhile.
  1. God will do things in His own time...not ours
    1. Our duty is to trust in God and His providence
    2. Stay faithful, even when we can't see that He'll ever respond
  2. When the promise tarries in coming...we are to wait
    1. Abraham waited and waited for the promise
      1. And though he saw the birth of the promised son
      2. He never saw the promise of the land being given to his descendants
    2. Joseph was a slave or in prison for 13 years before being elevated to the rank of Regent of Egypt—second only to Pharaoh in power and authority
    3. Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert...waiting for the promise
      1. And it was the next generation that actually got to see it
    4. Ps 37:9 Says that those who wait on the Lord will inherit the earth
    5. And, Is 40:31 says they will have their strength renewed like the eagle's

TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
  1. Jesus didn't come for the priest's and kings of the day...He came for the prostitutes and publicans
    1. He didn't come for those who are healthy...but for those who are sick (Lk 5:31-32)
    2. He didn't come for the wealthy...but for the beggars
    3. He doesn't care what you know...or how much you know
      1. Because in know nothing (1 Co 1:25-29)
      2. It's not what you's Who you know!

ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.
  1. Jesus said that He'd always be with us (Mt 28:20)
    1. He promised that he'd never leave us or forsake us (Jos 1:5; He 13:5)
    2. He's our strong tower (Pr 18:10) our shield, our refuge (2 Sa 22:3)
    3. When God is for us...those who are against us count for nothing (Ro 8:31)
  2. Any trial we go through...or tribulation we suffer through
    1. We know that we are in the hands of the Creator of all things
    2. He is in control, and nothing happens that He is not fully aware of
    3. No matter how long that set off was...”all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Ro 8:28)
  3. The question is, are you with God?
    1. Have you come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
      1. Jesus said...(Lk 11:23)
      2. There is no middle ground
      3. You're either with Christ...or your against Him
    2. Invitation

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Genesis 4:17

"And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch." (Gen 4:17)

Earlier in the 4th chapter, Cain had murdered his brother and had been exiled for his sin.  God said that he'd be "alienated", that the ground wouldn't "give you its yield", and that he'd be a "restless wanderer on the earth." (Ge 4:11,12 HCSB)

Sin always carries consequences with it.  When we sin, sooner or later, we pay for that sin.  If we drink too much alcohol, we may suffer an assortment of consequences such as loss of family, job or even life.  If we smoke...we may suffer from shortness of breath, emphezema, lung cancer and eventually death.  Sex outside of marriage may bring disease and/or death, unwanted pregnancy. 

The list goes on and on, and just like Cain, we try to mitigate the consequences of our sins. Cain "builded a city" in an effort to neutralize the consequences of his sin and establish a point of unity for his own family to make up for the family he had lost.  We also have turned sin into something that's not quite so bad anymore.  Obesity is "a glandular problem".  Alcoholism is a "disease".  Homosexuals were "born that way".  Extra-marital sex is now "natural" and means nothing more than any other bodily function.  Sin is no longer sin, but a "problem", or an "issue" that we probably should work on...if we feel the need...or have the time.  Even Christians have turned the fire and torment of an eternal hell into merely "separation" from God.

But no matter how we try to make the consequences more "tolerable"...we will suffer the consequences just the same.  Changing the name doesn't change the effect.  We will still die, sooner or later, for our sins.  That is the just judgment of God who offered by Himself, not only the first sacrifice for sin (Ge 3:21), but also the last sacrifice for sin, Jesus Christ "By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all." (Heb 10:10)